Social Class in America

Topics: Social class, Working class, Middle class Pages: 34 (12194 words) Published: October 16, 2012
SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA
TEACHER'S GUIDE
by

PEOPLE LIKE US:

Lora Myers
Contributing Editors: Julie Hey Alicia Ellis & Amy Foerster Susan Kempler Eva Abbamonte

Table of Contents
I. INTRODUCTION TO PEOPLE LIKE US: SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA ..................... 3 II. PROGRAM OUTLINE .................................................................................. 4 III. PRE-VIEWING ACTIVITIES ........................................................................ 6 IV. POST-VIEWING DISCUSSION AND ACTIVITIES............................................. 6 V. SEGMENT-RELATED QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES.......................................... 8 VI. THEME-BASED ACTIVITIES ..................................................................... 19 APPENDIX ................................................................................................. 27 WHAT IS SOCIAL CLASS?.......................................................................... 27 DETERMINANTS OF SOCIAL CLASS .......................................................... 27 VARIABLES OF SOCIAL CLASS ................................................................ 27 FACTS ON CLASS .................................................................................... 28 RESOURCES ........................................................................................... 32 ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN PEOPLE LIKE US ...................................................... 33

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I. Introduction to People Like Us: Social Class in America People Like Us: Social Class in America tackles a question rarely addressed so explicitly in the popular media: Are all Americans created equal -- or are some more equal than others? Over the course of two hours, the documentary reveals that despite our country's deeply-held ideals of egalitarianism and fairness, our citizens are in fact subject to sharp class distinctions and often insurmountable inequalities of opportunity. For viewers and students interested in the sociology and culture of the United States, People Like Us provides an entertaining introduction to a controversial topic. It does not offer a Marxian analysis of one group's exploitation of another, nor does it celebrate the virtues of the capitalist system. Rather, this popular history presents an outspoken group of Americans from diverse locales and even more diverse socioeconomic groups: privileged New York "WASPS," upwardly mobile African Americans in North Carolina, struggling minimum-wage workers in Ohio, proud Georgia "rednecks," blue-collar suburbanites in New Jersey, cliquey Texas highschool students, and more. Through their portraits, People Like Us raises questions about the ways, large and small, in which Americans classify each other, how our inherited social class affects our self-perceptions and our expectations, and how race and other factors complicate an already complex arrangement of social distinctions in our society. Producers Andrew Kolker and Louis Alvarez, who have collaborated on a series of award-winning documentaries on different aspects of American culture since 1979, found People Like Us to be an extremely challenging program to make. Crisscrossing the country to interview hundreds of Americans, they discovered that many of us take our class status for granted, while many others refuse to admit that class differences exist. In making this program, Alvarez and Kolker hope to challenge viewers to rethink their assumptions about class in America and to examine how those assumptions influence their attitudes about their fellow citizens. People Like Us premiered on the Public Broadcasting System and is intended for a general audience. It is also extremely useful for educators who wish to introduce students to basic concepts about social class and about class distinctions in the United States. People Like Us does not pretend to be the definitive documentary about class in America. But it does aim to be a catalyst for discussion and deeper study...

Links: to many other class-related sites. Additional Web sites -- from activist groups to think tanks: www.Acorn.org Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - an activist group that works to eliminate injustice. www.calltorenewal.com Call To Renewal - a faith-based network that fights poverty and inequality. www.census.gov The official site of the U.S. Census Bureau contains reports, statistics, graphs, and other information about the distribution of wealth in the United States. www.chn.org The Coalition on Human Needs - an alliance of national organizations concerned with public policy affects on low income people, and other vulnerable populations, including women, children, and the disabled. www.fair.org FAIR - a national group that monitors bias and censorship in the media and advocates for greater diversity of viewpoints and concerns in the press. www.urban.org The Urban Institute - a nonpartisan economic and social policy research organization.
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About the People in People Like Us You may contact any of the people appearing in People Like Us by sending an email to our offices [mail@cnam.com]. Please put the name of the person you wish to contact in the subject heading of your note, and we will make sure they receive it.
BILL BEAR is a plumbing contractor in southern Ohio. MICHAEL BIRDWELL is a historian at Tennessee Tech University and is an editor of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. DAVID BROOKS is the editor of The Weekly Standard, a political magazine, and the author of Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. DAVID PATRICK COLUMBIA is a social chronicler who runs newyorksocialdiary.com. TAMMY CRABTREE lives in Pike County, in southern Ohio, where she works at a Burger King. She has four children ages 12 to 22. STANLEY CROUCH is a noted jazz critic, novelist, and newspaper columnist. JOHN DIIULIO is a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania who now serves as the head of the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives. BARBARA EHRENREICH is an author and columnist. Her latest book is called Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America and features her experiences working at minimum wage jobs. DANA FELTY hails from Morgantown, Kentucky (pop 2,544). She attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio and now works in Washington DC for a journalism foundation. PAUL FUSSELL is a professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. LAWRENCE OTIS GRAHAM is the author of Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class. PAT GULDEN runs the Eastern Seaboard’s largest retail outlet for concrete lawn ornaments, located in suburban Baltimore. R. COURI HAY is a publicist and society columnist in New York City. BENILDE LITTLE is a novelist who wrote the bestseller Good Hair. CARLOTTA MILES is a psychiatrist in Washington DC. LANG PHIPPS is a musician and writer from New York City.
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JOE QUEENAN is an author and columnist. His most recent book is Balsamic Dreams: A Short but Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer. DAN RODRICKS is a columnist for the Baltimore Sun. GINIE POLO SAYLES has written How to Marry the Rich and How to Meet the Rich, and teaches classes across the country on improving one’s social situation. BRYON SMITH is a retired fireman and part-time general contractor in central New Jersey. TOM SMITH is a teacher in Burlington, Vermont. He served on the Burlington city council. ROBERT A.M. STERN is an architect in New York City and the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture. ELEANOR WELLER is an interior decorator in Baltimore who has written The Golden Age of America’s Gardens: Proud Owners, Private Estates, 1890-1940.
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ORDERING INFORMATION Videocassettes of People Like Us: Social Class in America can be ordered from CNAM Film Library. Call (800) 343-5540 or write to: CNAM Film Library 22-D Hollywood Avenue Hohokus, NJ 07423 Additional copies of this guide are available from: The Center for New American Media 589 Eighth Avenue, 21st floor New York, NY 10018 mail@cnam.com
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